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15 June 2006


Visit South Australia as it prepares for a state election. We take a look at the voting system, and see how new technologies are going to change the way Australians vote in the future.

PAUL McCARTHY: In our not-so-distant past the election count was a far cry from what it is today. Back in the days of paper and pen technology, textas and big adding machines kept us informed. But now in the IT era computers crunch the numbers and send results at the speed of light. Tomorrow for the first time they'll be linked to these giant screens in the tally room.

KAY MOUSLEY, STATE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER: Instead of using the old tally board, which is exceptionally labour intensive, it had a lot of atmosphere about it, I suppose, and "Oh, they've come out with a new number, where are they going to put it, who is going to change the figures this time around". Whereas this probably won't have the same theatre or the drama connected with it but it will be a very instant update of our results.

PAUL McCARTHY: The theatrics won't be totally gone. On this last weekend of the festival the election night soap opera will be played out in this room, the former home of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Behind the screens about 60 electoral commission staff will frantically key into banks of computers the individual results as they are phoned in from 700 polling booths.

KAY MOUSLEY: The general public, they come along and they think "Oh, this is easy, I can vote and it's all here for me" but they don't realise the amount of planning and preparation that goes into getting it ready.

DAVID GULLY, DEPUTY ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER: Today we're doing a full test of the live candidates for this election with just the same number of votes going through for every candidate. It's going to be a dead heat today, I can guarantee that. Every candidate will tie.

PAUL McCARTHY: The electoral commission says hours of meticulous preparation means it's never had a major glitch but, with the improvements in technology, there's a growing pressure for instant results.

KAY MOUSLEY: There is a demand and an expectation that they will be fairly instant and we're expecting the first lot of figures to start coming through about 6.30 on Saturday night.

PAUL McCARTHY: The next evolution in vote counting will be electronic voting and, like the end of the stock exchange floor, the tally room could become obsolete and it may not be that far away.

KAY MOUSLEY: We've got to wait for a little while to be fully encompassing of the idea but there will be moves towards some sort of electronic voting and we'll look into that for next time to do some, perhaps a trial or a pilot to see how it goes.

story notes

a far cry from
very different from something

Example: This new car is a far cry from my old bicycle.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Here kept is the past tense of the irregular verb keep. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: keep

tally room
To tally means to count or add up results. The tally room is where the votes are counted.

labour intensive
Something that is labour intensive requires a lot of work.

Example: The traditional methods of growing rice are very labour intensive.

b>Gone is the past participle of the irregular verb go. Follow the link below to find out more.
more information: go

played out
enacted; happened as if in a play

Example: The whole sordid affair has been played out in public.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb play out, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: play out

Frantically means in a rushed and confused way.


polling booths
A polling booth is a place where people go to vote.

Notice that when live is used as adjective like this it is pronounced differently from the verb. Follow the link below and listen to the difference.
more information: live

dead heat
A dead heat is a draw or a tie. It's when contestants get the same result as their opponents.

Example: The race ended in a dead heat.

meticulous preparation
Meticulous means very careful and with attention to detail. Preparation refers to things you do getting ready - preparing. They spend a lot of time carefully getting ready.

A glitch is a fault or problem with a machine or system.

Here, evolution refers to the process of changing into a better form.

If something is obsolete its not in use anymore, like this adding machine. Itís been replaced by something new and better.